Some OFWs in Lebanon appeal for repatriation amid unrest

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 29) – Some overseas Filipino workers in Lebanon are calling on President Rodrigo Duterte to repatriate them to the Philippines as anti-government demonstrations in the Middle Eastern country have turned violent.

Nanawagan po kami kay President Duterte para matulungan kami na makauwi,” In a CNN Philippines interview, Jenelyn Padayao, who works in Lebanon as a domestic helper.

[Translation: We are appealing for help from President Duterte so he could help us go home.]

Padayao said a lot of her Filipino friends also were left jobless, because establishments, especially banks, have been closed for over a month.

She said they cannot afford to pay the penalty imposed upon them for being illegal workers in Lebanon, adding that the some of them have been undocumented OFWs for a decade now.

The situation there has worsened because protesters have upped the ante, resorting to the use of arms, she explained.

Sa ngayon po worse na po kaysa noon. Kasi noon, nag-ra-rally lang sila. Ngayon, nagpuputukan na dun sa city,” the OFW said in an interview.

[Translation: Right now, it has become worse compared to before. Before, they were just holding rallies. Now they are firing guns in the city.]

Videos of chaos and ceaseless gun firing were also sent to CNN Philippines by Padayao.

Meanwhile, in a phone interview, Philippine Ambassador to Lebanon Bernardita Catalla said that despite the chaos, there's no cause for alarm as of the moment.

But the Embassy expressed willingness to help those that want to travel back to the Philippines.

The massive protests began in the country’s urban centers last month after the Lebanese government had announced it would impose taxes on voice calls, sparking speculations of corruption, the CNN reported. 

The proposal was scrapped following the unrest. Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri also resigned from his post, succumbing to protesters’ demand for a "downfall of the regime."